The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and AARP are partnering to release the results and findings of the Los Angeles Bicycle and Pedestrian Count, a citywide survey of walking and biking safety and accessibility in Los Angeles. The count, which was conducted in September 2015 in partnership with Los Angeles Walks, the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, and local organizations, covered 156 unique locations across Los Angeles. Data from the biennial count is used to measure the effectiveness of bicycle and pedestrian improvements and help the city of Los Angeles apply for competitive transportation grants.
The report found that:
The most popular streets for walking and biking are also the most unsafe: All of the top 30 count locations for people walking are located on the High Injury Network, along with 24 of the top 30 locations for people biking.
These top 30 locations accounted for 65% of all people walking who were counted and 55% of all people biking who were counted. All of these locations are located in high-density neighborhoods, near major destinations, or in low-income communities of color. Almost all of the top 30 locations were in neighborhoods with median household incomes below the rest of the city.
As bike lane installation has slowed, new ridership has decreased: In 2015, riders continued to gravitate towards bike lanes; however the count shows an overall 9% year-by-year decline in same location ridership from 2013 to 2015. In the last two years, bike lane installation has decreased significantly from a high of 101 miles in fiscal year 2013 to only 11 miles in fiscal year 2015. Many of these new lanes have been installations where bike lanes could be included in other road resurfacing or safety projects, rather than installations along high priority corridors identified in the Bicycle Plan. Of the initial 183 miles of bike lanes prioritized in the 5-year Bicycle Plan Implementation Strategy, only 45 miles (25%) have been installed. As a result, the bike network in Los Angeles remains fragmented with large gaps in bike lanes along most riders’ trips. This lack of connectivity continues to be the greatest barrier reported by many people who bike or would like to.
Women want safer biking options: In Los Angeles, women make up just 16% of cyclists overall, but the gender disparity is lowest on streets with quality bikeways (bike paths at 22% and bike lanes at 17%) and highest on streets with no bicycling infrastructure. Cities with safer streets for bicycling in general tend to have smaller gender disparities in bicycling, such as Portland, Oregon (35%), and Copenhagen, Denmark (50%).
Bike lanes have made streets safer, but more work needs to be done: On the new bike lanes studied, bike ridership increased by 62% after installation. After accounting for increases in bike ridership, new bike lanes reduced bicycle crash risk by an average of 42%.
This report comes at a time of important policy shifts in the city of Los Angeles. Every year, over 200 people are killed on city streets in traffic crashes, about half of them while walking or biking. In 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed Executive Directive 10, making Los Angeles a Vision Zero city and calling for all city departments to work together to end all traffic deaths by 2025. The City Council adopted this same policy goal to make safety the city’s top transportation priority as part of Mobility Plan 2035. To achieve Vision Zero, LADOT is working to catalog all serious and fatal traffic crashes and deploy proven engineering solutions to prevent them. In this report, LACBC analyzed collision data along corridors where bike lanes were installed and found that bike lanes are a key strategy for making streets safer–for people who bike and for all people using the roads. Recently, L.A. County voters overwhelmingly approved Measure M, also known as the “Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan.”
Measure M will provide approximately $120 billion over 40 years for transportation projects across L.A. County, including $4 billion for biking and walking.
“Every Angeleno deserves to feel safe and comfortable biking and walking on our streets,” said Tamika Butler, Executive Director of LACBC. “We know from our counts and crash data that the most acute traffic safety problems are occurring in low-income communities and communities of color, where biking and walking often are the only means of transportation.”
The report found that top 30 (20%) count locations account for over 65% of people who walk and 55% of people who bike. Most of these locations are located on top of the city’s High Injury Network, which indicates that people walking and biking on these streets are more likely to get injured or killed by traffic collisions. People walk and bike to access important neighborhood destinations like local businesses, services, transit stations, schools, and parks, many of which are located on the High Injury Network. Making walking and biking safe and convenient requires making infrastructure improvements on the streets where people are walking and biking.
“Each year, the L.A. Bike and Ped Count proves that better data leads to better decisions,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin, who serves as Chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee and has helped encourage participation in the Bike and Ped Count on the Westside. “The Bike and Ped Count reveals crucial information, which shows that investing in safer streets allows more and more people to opt out of the soul-sucking traffic that comes with commuting in a single-passenger car. As we work to eliminate traffic fatalities in Los Angeles, this data helps show policy makers where we must prioritize safe, accessible and balanced transportation projects.”
“Data plays a crucial role in guiding us to reach our goal of a city where no one dies getting around our city. We thank all the volunteers who give their time to make this contribution,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager.
“Safe, accessible streets are extremely important to our 50+ community members, who are increasingly walking, biking and taking public transportation to the grocery store, to visit friends or to doctors’ appointments,” AARP California State Director Nancy McPherson said. “In California, adults 65 and older comprise almost a quarter of pedestrian fatalities, making the state second in the nation in the deaths of elderly pedestrians. It is our hope that the information provided in the 2015 Los Angeles Pedestrian and Bicycle Count will help us work toward a point where Angelenos of all ages can experience safe and vibrant streets.”